Monday, 1 September 2008

Herefordshire hop

When two or more cidermakers gather in a single place, they can usually be relied upon to have a bit of a drink. At the Ross Cider & Perry Festival there are literally dozens of cidermakers, and whilst the drinking is certainly not the only attraction on offer, there's a hell of a lot of 'sampling' and 'research' going on.

Mike Johnson and his hard-working team have been organising a festival at Broome Farm for several years now, and it's getting better every year. The basic premise of the event is a weekend of live music, accompanied by the Broome Farm cider bar and excellent home-cooked food. Friday is Ceilidh night, and Sunday features a very good Farmers Market and Craft fair. The main event though is the Saturday 'Meet the Cidermakers' day, where several cidermakers from Herefordshire and slightly further afield set out their stalls and offer for sale and sampling a bewildering array of fine ciders and perrys.

I've always thought that the timing of the Ross Cider Festival is very good. Many of the ciders and perrys are at the peak of maturity, and the pressing demonstration by Dave Mathews of Seidr Dai is a nice touch, all the better for using seasonal fruit. But perhaps the best thing about mixing with so many experienced cidermakers at this time of year is the chance to make useful contacts, pick up tips, and exchange information whilst the thought of the impending cidermaking season is fresh in our minds.

It was of course a huge pleasure to just share a drink with people we enjoy chatting with, but rarely get the chance to meet. The nouveau cidermaking tradition of the East Midlands was well represented with Ray and Gail of Torkard Cider, and Chris and Sue of Three Cats Cider in attendance. Ray and Chris can be seen here in full flow. I believe they may have been discussing something too.

Another great festival, congratultions to all involved. If you missed it never fear, there should be several more events organised for the Summer of 2009, culminating in the cider festival at the end of August, and a visit to Mike's cider cellar at Broome Farm is always a rewarding experience whatever the time of year.

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